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Public Statements

Letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, along with Representative Mike Ross (AR-04) today sent the following letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell thanking them for their recent visits to the Albert Pike campground and for their agency's efforts to assist Arkansans who have been impacted by last week's flash flooding in that area. Senators Lincoln and Pryor and Rep Ross asked that the agencies continue working not only to clean up and rebuild, but to improve the weather emergency warning systems at the campground.

"We would like for you to work with the United States Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and state and local officials to determine how to improve emergency warning systems for campground visitors at Albert Pike," the letter reads. "We know the rugged terrain and remote location of Albert Pike, conditions that exist at a number of campgrounds located in our country's National Forests, pose cumbersome barriers to effective communication with the outside world. Innovative solutions will be needed to meet the challenges the terrain presents so we can help ensure the safety of the visitors in the area."

The full text of the letter is below. The signed copy of the letter is available here: lincoln.authoring.senate.gov/newsroom/upload/secretary.pdf

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Chief Tidwell:

We are writing in reference to the recent flash flooding at the Albert Pike campground in southwest Arkansas that claimed the lives of 20 people. First, we would like to thank you for your agency's efforts in recent days to assist the many families in Arkansas that were impacted by the tragic flash flood. Your presence at the campground Saturday meant a great deal to Arkansas. We commend you and your staff for your response efforts and your ability to coordinate with state and local officials in their attempts to rescue and recover victims.

We hope that going forward we can continue such a coordinated effort to cleanup, rebuild, and reopen this majestic campground. In doing so, we would like for you to work with the United States Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and state and local officials to determine how to improve emergency warning systems for campground visitors at Albert Pike. We know the rugged terrain and remote location of Albert Pike, conditions that exist at a number of campgrounds located in our country's National Forests, pose cumbersome barriers to effective communication with the outside world. Innovative solutions will be needed to meet the challenges the terrain presents so we can help ensure the safety of the visitors in the area. We also ask that you work with us to find a way to properly memorialize those lives that were lost in this tragic flood.

We are deeply saddened by the loss of life, and we believe we must consider additional measures going forward in an effort to prevent a similar event in the future. We look forward to working with you to enhance campground safety and emergency warning systems so that we may make this very popular campground better than ever.

Thank you for your attention to this letter.


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